Hometown Jobs: Western Virginia Water Authority Registered Apprenticeship Program

Published: Jul. 19, 2023 at 12:36 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Providing clean water is a vital part of every neighborhood in our hometowns. The people who make that happen are in demand.

The Western Virginia Water Authority started the registered apprenticeship program for high school students in 2017.

“We were actually the first business in the Roanoke Valley to get registered with the Department of Labor to have this program,” said Sarah Baumgardner, Director of Public Relations.

It prepares students for full-time positions at the water authority.

“I’m a crew leader, so I kind of supervise the two people below me and I’m also doing hands-on work as well. It’s a lot of fun. I get to operate equipment and drive dump trucks. If you like being outside, and you have a good work ethic, this is definitely the job for you,” said Cody Perdue, a crew leader.

“They rotate through each department that we have here at the water authority and they work with a mentor. So they’re learning firsthand with a skilled person to guide them through the training program,” said Baumgardner.

David McGhee shares his 30 years of experience with the students. He participated in a program like this, worked for the water authority, retired and then came back to teach future generations.

“My idea of mentorship is working side by side with them, guiding them and directing them. Sharing my experience and my knowledge with them with the purpose of hopefully them adopting that and contributing that to their their long term goal,” said McGhee.

He works with students like Fiona Thurston.

“I was really lost. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in the workforce, and so the apprenticeship program came along. There are many different companies. And thankfully, I chose this one because I really love everything that I’ve done,” said Thurston.

Students are paid while they participate in the program and it’s flexible around their school schedule, working toward a career that will benefit hometowns in Southwest Virginia.

“It makes me feel really good because I’ve always wanted to help my community somehow. And this is definitely, you know, been something wonderful, just being able to help,” said Thurston.